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The Enigma of High Energy Cosmic Rays

In 1912, Viktor Hess took to the sky in a hot-air balloon and discovered a radioactive energy now called “cosmic rays.” Travel to Argentina to see how scientists now hope to discover at long last where the highest-energy cosmic rays are coming from.

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Essay: Will Dark Energy Please Come to Light?

Two teams working independently in 1998 came to the same conclusion: An invisible force, one that seems to act opposite gravity, is separating the matter in space at an increasing pace. Find out more about their “jaw-dropping” discovery.

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Essay: Waiting for Gravity at LIGO

If LIGO regularly registers gravitational waves, it will more than vindicate Einstein. The observatory may help answer pressing questions about the cosmos’s biggest mysteries, among them black holes, dark matter, and the Big Bang.

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Essay: A Rogue's Gallery of Gravity-Makers

Anything with an accelerating mass has a gravitational effect — an atomic bomb, a spinning aircraft carrier, even you. Learn more about these ripples in space and how LIGO is designed to capture the biggest gravitational waves.

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Essay: LIGO's Extended Family

LIGO, or the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, is just one of five large-scale gravitational-wave detectors in the world. Find out how they rely on each other to achieve their goals.

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Essay: Capturing Phantoms: Gamma-Ray Bursts

Our eyes can only detect a fraction of light in the electromagnetic spectrum — otherwise we’d see gamma-ray bursts, flashes that outshine the sun by a million trillion times, about once a day. Learn more.

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A Tale of Two Rovers

In early 2004, two unlikely explorers traveled to the red planet and found strong evidence to confirm water once existed on the surface of Mars, and in sufficient quantity to possibly have harbored life.

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Why Go to Mars

So much of what drives cosmic exploration involves the quest to learn whether or not we're alone in the Universe. But that's not the only reason to go to Mars. Find out others from Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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Visions (and Revisions) of Mars

The invention of the telescope in the 17th century provided scientists with unprecedented, yet hazy, images of Mars. Some observers saw canals; others saw diagrams drawn for "interplanetary communication."

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When Worlds Diverge

For all their similarities, Mars possesses unique geophysical traits — traits that early on set Mars on a developmental path distinct from Earth's.

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